Some might see having Captain America as the only hero in the smallest set odd as he's supposed to be the team leader and that means the only thing he can assemble in this set is his "Avenging Cycle". It includes an iconic hero, generic villains and some vehicular tidbits thrown in to round it out, but does the battle pack equivalent of the Marvel line actually live up to the concept?
**Spoilers Ahead! Read on at your own risk...**
There's a lot to consider when you look at this set, so buckle up and let's take it one step at a time.
It's been mentioned before that these small sets are all about the figs. The pricing is based on that and not the piece counts, so let's forget about that and move on. Most people will agree the reason for buying these small battle packs is the minifigures, so they either need to have plenty of recognizable characters/exclusives like the Harry Potter 4865 Forbidden Forest or cannon fodder for army building like 7914 Mandalorian Battle Pack. This pack is neither and both at the same time. On the one hand you get possibly the most iconic member of the Avengers, Captain America and on the other you get a couple of alien soldiers who are basically part of a near limitless invasion force. If you have any interest in amasing Chitauri soldiers so your Avengers can have an army to humiliate then this is the set to do it, but you're going to pay a price.
I know Cap isn't as popular right now as Iron Man, the movies have slanted folks over to team Stark and the comics, cartoons and toys all reflect that. Regardless, Cap is a solid figure that looks great and can carry a set on his own. The printing is good without being too detailed and the darker blue colouring matches the movies well enough while staying in LEGO's established palette. The best bit is the shield and I think it's worth buying multiples just for that. People gave the 6858 Catwoman Catcycle City Chase a hard time because Batman didn't come with a standard cape, but if there is a figure that is nothing without its accessories, it's Captain America. That shield is probably more recognizable than the the character himself and they nailed it. So the good guy side of this set has an exclusive (so far) minifigure that while is desirable, is not something you want to end up with twenty of, unless you plan on clearing them out on Bricklink.
The bad guys in this set are so generic they are virtually indistinguishable from one another, so LEGO probably didn't need to bother making two different figures. Sure there are differences when you look at them on screen, but they are the same differences you'd see looking at any army. The Alien Foot Soldier below is actually in the 6869 Quinjet Aerial Battle, but it's much cheaper to get multiples in this set and the Alien General doesn't look so different that you could just throw a bunch of each together and call it a squad.
All three figures have back printing and if you wanted too, you could probably get away with reversing the torso so you could have four different Chitauri "uniforms" and the torso/leg printing would match up fairly well. Cap has no leg printing so it makes him at least useful for some dark blue body parts if you need another rationalization to buy multiples.
Moving on to the actual build, let's look at the Chitauri side first. You get two small builds, a speeder and a missile launcher/mortar.
The speeder is about as close as they could ever get at that scale, period. Those little ships were so organic that the pilots were strapped in and the gunners were chained on and at times it's difficult to see where the slave/soldier ends and the vehicle begins. It's a nice little parts assortment of mostly tan with some small pearl gold and purple accents that are nothing to write home about. It's a shame that all of the detail of the ship is achieved through the three stickers on the curved pieces, but as I said it needs to look organic and this thing is small. Not an easy task, but considering that the designers most likely only saw initial artwork at best for these I'd say they made it work.
The mortar is basically a tiny tan and stand used to fire some flick. I have no strong feelings for these little missiles either way, but I've never had any trouble getting at least 12-18 inches of range out of them. The sturdy design of this little stand allowed for my son and I to shoot those suckers a good three feet. It's a nice little addition if you're building an army, even if this type of devise was not in the movie. I think the extra parts would have been better used extending the length of the speeder to fit the second soldier like in the movie, but as I said the designers may not have even been aware of that.
I wish I could say I've left the best for last, but this is really the sore spot for me when it comes to this set. The Avenging Cycle. Stupid name, but it's no worse than Catcycle or (let's be honest here) Batmobile. I know I'll catch flack for that, but it's true. Batman himself simply called it "the car" most of the time, but it needed a name and that was what they came up with. Even Fantasticar is a better name than that. Anyway, the bike they've given Captain America has three main problems.
1) It's not the bike he rides in the comics. Captain America has driven a Harley Davidson motorcycle since at least 1980 and I know this because that's around the time I started really getting into comics. While not every artist drew it the same, no one drew it like a street racing crotch rocket.
2) It's not the type of bike used in the movies this set is based on. He drives a Harley Davidson Liberator in The First Avenger, so the designers probably figured he'd get an upgrade in The Avengers and he did. In the new movie Steve Rogers drives a beautiful new Harley Davidson Softail Slim.
The worst part is that it does match a motorcycle from the movies. He drove a similar bike with an even worse colour scheme in the horrible 1979 TV movies, Captain America & Captain America II: Death Too Soon. Here is a picture of the bike, if you haven't seen the movies... don't. Seriously, just don't. They make the 1990 version with Matt Salinger look like the freakin' Godfather.
3)This is not the bike that Captain America would choose to ride. Even if it was a bike designed and given to him by SHIELD, certain characters (Fury, Coulson) wouldn't have let this slide by. Let's take Harley's out of the equation and focus on LEGO bikes only. THIS IS NOT THE BIKE CAPTAIN AMERICA WOULD CHOOSE TO RIDE. Just look at the most recent selection of LEGO bikes and think "Which bike would a Super Soldier from WWII want to drive if he were made of LEGO?".
It's stupid really, they had the perfect bike and one that already came in the right colours. The only reason I could see for not using it is that it appears in the Wolverine set. I guess it just made sense to give him Catwoman's bike instead. Foolishness.
Take a gander at how cool he looks on this bike and all the great ways you can display his shield with it's pre-existing conections. It's a real shame because that would have really made this set fit and instead it's just off. Who wouldn't rather end up with a handful of these vintage beauties than a bunch of top-heavy racing bikes, but I could be way off...
Also, more stickers. Nothing too bad, but they were almost pointless really. So to sum up:
What I Liked:
- Captain America is an absolute must-have to complete the Avengers and well worth the price of the set.
- The Chitauri are generic enough to build a small army, but different enough to mix it up a bit.
- The speeder is simple but descent enough to act out a scene with a couple swooshing around.
- I would buy this set for the shield alone.
What I didn't Like:
- That bike just doesn't jive with Captain America as a character, the movies or even the set it's in.
- The mortar is pointless and unnecessary, but at least it works (+ tan).
- It's just not Captain America's Bike. It doesn't deserve the ridiculous name of the "Avenging Cycle", or maybe it does...
- I want an Agent Coulson fig. All sets will lose points until it this happens.
Vedict: Buy it. Why wait? It's (relatively) cheap, it has the exclusive Cap figure and without it the Avengers have a Chitauri army of one to fight. I've capped off (excuse the pun) three orders with this set to get to $50 so I could get Exclusive Hulk figs and to be honest, I see myself picking up at least a couple more. If I don't have at least ten aliens for Cap to fight, I won't be playing Avenger for very long. Just give him a decent bike. Please, think of the children.
Buy 6865 Captain America's Avenging Cycle from LEGO Shop@Home: